NCAA launches internal investigation

Members of the NCAA enforcement staff who sought information about the alleged improper benefits scandal at University of Miami now face an investigation into its own conduct.

On Wednesday, the NCAA placed its investigation into the Miami athletic department on hold, and will turn its attention to the association’s own staff.

Several former employees apparently worked with the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro to obtain information during an unrelated bankruptcy proceeding. Shapiro, a rogue UM booster who said he doled out thousands of impermissible benefits to several dozen athletes, prompted the NCAA to launch an investigation nearly two years ago.

The NCAA does not have subpoena power, meaning the information it gained through Shapiro’s attorney would not have been otherwise accessible.

“To say the least, I am angered and saddened by this situation,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a teleconference Wednesday afternoon. “Trust and credibility are essential to our regulatory tasks. My intent is to ensure our investigatory functions operate with integrity and are fair and consistent with our member schools, athletics staff and most importantly our student-athletes.”

Similarly, UM President Donna E. Shalala released a statement to express her discontent.

“Since the University first alerted the NCAA to the possibility of violations more than two years ago, we have been cooperative and compliant with the NCAA and, I believe, a model for how institutions should partner with NCAA staff during investigations,” the statement read. “I am frustrated, disappointed and concerned by President Emmert’s announcement today that the integrity of the investigation may have been compromised by the NCAA staff.”

Emmert will move forward with an external review of the enforcement committee’s actions. The news of the NCAA’s own misconduct comes on the tail of last week’s report that UM could soon receive a notice of allegations.

Individuals implicated in the NCAA’s UM investigation – who receive a notice of allegations – will have 90 days to respond before any sanctions are handed out.